Suicide: A Growing Health Concern
Suicide is a public health issue that does not discriminate against age or ethnicity and can impact anyone regardless of their social or economic status. In Florida, it is believed that one person dies by suicide every three hours. Unfortunately, that number is rising.1
While there is no single cause of suicide, it most often occurs when stress and other health issues combine, leaving an individual with feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and despair. Research suggests that undiagnosed mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and addiction increase one’s risk for suicide.2
Comorbidity: Suicide and Problem Gambling
Problem gambling, known as the “Hidden Addiction,” gets its nickname due to the fact that many symptoms do not present themselves physically as is the case in substance addictions. This means that many individuals suffering from Gambling Disorder often do so alone, potentially increasing feelings of isolation and depleting self-worth. According to the 888-ADMIT-IT 2017-2018 Annual Report, twenty six percent (26%) of callers reported having suicidal ideation. Additionally, sixty-six percent (66%) of callers reported having depression, and seventy-two percent (72%) revealed they are struggling with anxiety.
Although we are unable to pinpoint the exact reason for such a strong connection between suicidal ideation and Gambling Disorder, it is possible that financial, legal, and relationship issues all play a role. As a gambling addiction progresses, it becomes more difficult for that individual to contribute to the household, leaving some to believe the only solution is to end their life.
Know the Warning Signs
An essential step to suicide prevention is knowing the warning signs. Individuals who take their own life often display one or more of the following:
What Can I Do to Help?
If you are concerned that someone you know may be suicidal, Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, recommends the following:3
- Trust your gut
- Be the one to take action
- Don’t worry about being the “right person”
- Set up a heart-to-heart
- Let them know what worried you
- If you’re still worried, be direct, ask them “are you considering suicide?”
- Help connect them to resources if necessary
- Know the suicide prevention lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Follow up even if they are not suicidal
Although talking to someone you believe might be considering suicide may be difficult, it is extremely important to open the line of communication and connect individuals in crisis to local help and services. That difficult conversation can save a life.
Additional Help and Resources
For more information on suicide and prevention visit, https://afsp.org/. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please contact the 24/7 national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). To be directly connected to someone who speaks Spanish, call 888-628-4889.
To learn more about gambling disorder or if you or someone you know has a gambling problem call Florida’s 24/7, confidential, and multilingual HelpLine 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848).